The Brigade provides a 24-hour, 365-day multi-disciplinary shore-based coastal rescue service. The Rescue Team is a declared facility to HM Coastguard and represents the Coastguard Rescue Service in the North Tyneside and Newcastle area. With a team of 20 volunteers, we respond to an average of 120 calls a year – with the summer months being our busiest time of the year. Although an independent organisation, we work very closely with the Coastguard, RNLI, North East Ambulance Service, Northumbria Police and Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service. The Rescue Team also has close links with North Tyneside Council, Port of Tyne, the Royal Life Saving Society, and other local charities such as North Sea Volunteer Lifeguards and Red Seal Rescue. By maintaining strong links with many organisations, we provide a fast, efficient and effective response to emergency situations throughout the borough, while also working on sea and water safety projects.
The rescue teams core skill areas include:
a. Rope rescue
b. Water rescue
c. Search techniques
d. First aid
e. Coastal search and rescue
For Rope, Water and Search, we train to standards set by the Coastguard and have our own in-house trainers who co-ordinate team training and progression. To rescue someone stuck on a cliff face, or to provide access to someone stuck at the bottom of a cliff, there is a need for multiple team members with a range of skills. All team members are trained to act as ‘operators’, working on the cliff top and managing the safety systems for those going beyond the cliff edge. In addition, around half the team are trained to ‘technician’ level which allows them to be deployed over the cliff.
Due to the high number of first aid incidents that we attend, we have extensive first aid capability, including the provision of life support, a defibrillator, oxygen and Entonox and access to a range of stretchers and vacuum splints. Our dedicated First Aid Team consists of 6 members who plan and deliver training across this range of disciplines and this is achieved in part by being a registered training centre with the Royal Life Saving Society.
Water rescue can be one of the most dangerous aspects of our work, operating in the sea, open water or fast-flowing rivers. To allow regular training and extensive operational capability, all members have access to their own dry suit and safety equipment. In addition, the team also has a rescue sled and urban flood raft.
The majority of our rescue equipment is stored in our bespoke Toyota Hilux rescue vehicle, which is affectionally known by the team as ‘Betty’. Entering service at the start of 2017, the vehicle has several safety features which allow the team quick access to equipment, especially our stretchers. Additional water rescue equipment, including our raft, is stored in a trailer which is generally deployed for extended training sessions or protracted incidents.
Coastguard Rescue helicopters are deployed throughout the UK and the Brigade is responsible for providing ground support when they access hospitals in Newcastle, principally the RVI. Although there is a helipad at the hospital, on occasion the Brigade will be asked to secure a nearby field where the helicopter can also land. Once on the ground, we provide logistical support and assist in transferring equipment and personnel to and from the helicopter and the hospital.
To enable a fast response to incidents, members are issued with a range of Personal Protective Equipment. This allows us to be operational on an incident before the rescue vehicle arrives. In general, a team member will be on scene within 5–10 minutes of being tasked.
The bulk of our incidents occur between Tynemouth and Whitley Bay, although we are also tasked further north to support our colleagues at Blyth Coastguard, and also up the River Tyne, towards Newcastle and occasionally beyond.
If you are interested in joining our Rescue Team, please go to the ‘Volunteer’ page for more information on our recruitment process.